Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our Week in the Garden of Eden, Utah

In spite of a slow start to our annual ski trip due to some cancelled flights, we arrived on Saturday evening as planned in Eden, Utah.  With only minutes before the clock struck midnight we crawled into bed dreaming of powder runs and sunshine.  

On our first morning in Eden, only minutes from Powder Mountain Resort, we woke to sunny skies and temperatures that nearly qualified for spring-like conditions.  After a quick breakfast we made plans to hit the mountain for our first taste of Utah's finest, light fluffy powder.  

Within an hour we found ourselves back in Salt Lake City at REI shopping for new boots for Bruno.  How quickly plans can change!  Unfortunately Bruno's boots were damaged in transit, which inititially  was a major blow to our strategy to do some lift riding, and split boarding for the entire week, not to mention our morale.  The system that allows us to ride snowboards that convert to skis is one that is not commonly used, or sold for that matter.  The first 10+ ski/snowboard shops didn't carry compatible boots/binding/boards and in some cases the shops never heard of "splint" boards (not a good omen).  Thankfully REI had the right boots, and they fit Bruno's foot AND they were compatible both sets of Bruno's bindings/boards. We were back in action!

We found our riding legs on Powder Mountain on Monday morning and enjoyed virtually no lift lines, wide open terrain and the friendliest people we have ever met.  We explored all day and concluded we had covered about 1/10th of the mountain.

On Tuesday morning we woke to 3-4" of fresh snow which translated to about 8" on the mountain.  This transformed pretty decent conditions to shear bliss on a board.  From that point it kept snowing, and snowing and snowing, all week long  It seems we traded the sunny skies on Sunday (which we spent in REI) for steady, light snowfall for the rest of the week.

One day midweek, we packed our probes, shovels and strapped on our beacons for a day in the backcountry on the back side of the resort.  The avalanche risk in Utah has been extremely high so we hired a local guide.  He gave us a refresher on backcountry basics, and we dug a snow pit and confirmed the presence of an unstable layer below a wet slab that was causing problems in steep terrain.  He took us to an area that was stable, and offered terrain within our abilities (which also means the risk of avalanche is low).  We made several laps that offered waist deep powder on the ride down followed by a heart-pounding ascent back to the top on skis.   The conditions were unlike anything we have experienced, and the sensation of going with the flow through light fully snow was unforgettable - and will be sought again!  With tired legs and big smiles we ended a great day safely back at the yurt where we started our day.

On our last day in Eden,  a major snowstorm blew in.   After struggling to find the parking lot at Powder Mountain we retreated to Eden and rented some XC skis.  The visibility at lower elevations was decent.  We skied for a few hours at South Fork Park just north of Eden on some un-groomed trails coated in fresh snow.  Just off the trail we saw a place to spend the night should we not be able to ski back to the car!  Had we known we need not have rented a condo (see photo below).

We will definitely return to Powder Mountain in Eden, UT.  The resort is quiet and considered a "local's" mountain.  Many of our fellow skiers and riders were surprised were from "back East" and that we found the resort, it is supposed to be a secret.  Thankfully they were gracious enough to share!  The isn't much to do in Eden aside from ski/board.  We did unwind at a local yoga studio a few times during the week.   If you travel to Eden to ride/ski take a good book, plan to cook in (there are a few bars/pubs) and expect to have some tired legs.

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